True Orthodoxy in Russia

Buena Vista monastery abbot and erstwhile-ROAC Archbishop Gregory (Abu-Assaly) of Dormition Skete has returned to his original focus of the past twenty years with the sponsorship of a new website attacking the monastery he left in the early 1980’s and the jurisdiction it later formed, the “Holy Orthodox Church in North America” (HOCNA).

The new website, http://www.hocna.info, is perhaps the most ambitious attempt yet to collect information on the damage done by the monastery and parishes under its “obedience” to individuals who have since left for other Churches or abandoned Orthodoxy altogether, includes a number of statements collected over the years by disgruntled former members, including one from the former Archbishop himself. The website is not for children and contains sometimes previously unpublished material, including what appears to be a letter from Fr Michael Azkoul of HOCNA requesting an investigation on adultery and clergy abuse written in late 2004.

The controversial Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Brookline, Massachusetts, under the influence of Archimandrite (usually referred to as “elder”) Panteleimon (Metropolous), fled the Russian Church Abroad in 1986 while under investigation on charges that a history of sexual abuse was being concealed by the monastery leadership. A year later, the monastery joined the Synod of Archbishop Auxentios of Athens (+1994) and upon receiving Bishops from the Synod, incorporated as a North American body. Former Archbishop Gregory of Denver, formerly a monk of Holy Transfiguration Monastery, fled in the beginning of the 1980’s to form Dormition Skete in Buena Vista, Colorado. He was made a Bishop of ROAC in 2001 and was then elevated to Archbishop– being retired by the Metropolitan a few weeks later– in 2004.

Much of this is detailed and explained on the site, from the point of view of former Archbishop Gregory. This fact makes it somewhat suspect in terms of bias; but the testimonies of other fomer members make for informative, if equally sickening, reading.

The charges and fighting between HOCNA and Dormition Skete may never, in fact, end (HOCNA itself has a massive website devoted to answering the allegations). But the constant sniping back and forth may enlighten the rest of the world as to the true nature of elder cultism. For this reason alone (and one can find almost no other reason to read such horrifying material), the site is worth reading, if at least with a grain of salt. –Joe Suaiden, NFTU

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